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VOL. 133 | NO. 118 | Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Haslam Says Immigration Issues Have Little to Do With Being Governor

By Bill Dries

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has been watching the television ads in the Republican primary race for governor – especially the ads about immigration and pledges to help President Donald Trump build a wall at the border with Mexico.

“There is whole lot of discussion about immigration and building the wall with Mexico and sanctuary cities,” Haslam said Wednesday, June 13, in a speech to a Collierville Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Ridgeway Country Club. 

 “All of that, to be honest with you, is a federal issue that rarely comes across the governor’s desk,” he told the crowd of more than 200. 

Immigration issues and pledges to back Trump’s immigration policies as well as building the wall with Mexico have been featured prominently in television ads by Republican contenders Diane Black and Randy Boyd.

“What you need to be asking whoever your next governor is, is who is going to keep the progress that we have going in education?” Haslam said. “How are we going to run TennCare so it doesn’t eat up our whole budget but it does hopefully take care of our most vulnerable citizens and pays those providers in the health care industry? And how do we keep a climate that keeps attracting great jobs and great businesses here so this can be a place where we want to raise our kids and grandkids?”

Haslam, who is seven months away from completing his second and final term as governor, said he will not make an endorsement in the Aug. 2 statewide Republican primary for governor. 

While in Memphis, he attended a fundraiser Wednesday evening for Republican state Rep. Mark White, who is being challenged by Doyle Silliman in the August legislative primaries. The winner of the primary faces Democrat Danielle Schonbaum in the Nov. 6 general election. Schonbaum is unopposed in the Democratic primary for state House District 83.

Haslam also said the recent problems with TNReady student achievement tests for a second consecutive year are emboldening critics who want to eliminate the tests, which also are used to evaluate teachers.

“All of that was just like a kick in the stomach,” Haslam said of the problems in the testing process. 

“There are a lot of folks that don’t want that year-end assessment of what a student learned to be a part of a teacher’s evaluation – a lot of people,” he said. “And every time we have an issue with a test, this lends more credence to people who are saying, ‘You are putting too much weight on that. Let’s quit doing the test or quit having a teacher’s evaluation be a part of that.’ I just think that’s a big mistake for our state.”

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